Contributions to the Genesis and Progress of ICF

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Inertial confinement fusion (ICF) has progressed from the detonation of large-scale fusion explosions initiated by atomic bombs in the early 1950s to final preparations for initiating small-scale fusion explosions with giant lasers. The next major step after ignition will be development of high performance targets that can be initiated with much smaller, lower cost lasers. In the 21st century and beyond, ICF's grand challenge is to develop practical power plants that generate low cost, clean, inexhaustible fusion energy. In this chapter, I first describe the origin in 1960-61 of ICF target concepts, early speculations on laser driven 'Thermonuclear Engines' for ... continued below

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PDF-file: 72 pages; size: 170.4 Mbytes

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Nuckolls, J. H. February 15, 2006.

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Inertial confinement fusion (ICF) has progressed from the detonation of large-scale fusion explosions initiated by atomic bombs in the early 1950s to final preparations for initiating small-scale fusion explosions with giant lasers. The next major step after ignition will be development of high performance targets that can be initiated with much smaller, lower cost lasers. In the 21st century and beyond, ICF's grand challenge is to develop practical power plants that generate low cost, clean, inexhaustible fusion energy. In this chapter, I first describe the origin in 1960-61 of ICF target concepts, early speculations on laser driven 'Thermonuclear Engines' for power production and rocket propulsion, and encouraging large-scale nuclear explosive experiments conducted in 1962. Next, I recall the 40-year, multi-billion dollar ignition campaign - to develop a matched combination of sufficiently high-performance implosion lasers and sufficiently stable targets capable of igniting small fusion explosions. I conclude with brief comments on the NIF ignition campaign and very high-performance targets, and speculations on ICF's potential in a centuries-long Darwinian competition of future energy systems. My perspectives in this chapter are those of a nuclear explosive designer, optimistic proponent of ICF energy, and Livermore Laboratory leader. The perspectives of Livermore's post 1970 laser experts and builders, and laser fusion experimentalists are provided in a chapter written by John Holzrichter, a leading scientist and leader in Livermore's second generation laser fusion program. In a third chapter, Ray Kidder, a theoretical physicist and early laser fusion pioneer, provides his perspectives including the history of the first generation laser fusion program he led from 1962-1972.

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PDF-file: 72 pages; size: 170.4 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: UCRL-BOOK-219136
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1016296
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc847007

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • February 15, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • May 27, 2016, 1:19 p.m.

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Nuckolls, J. H. Contributions to the Genesis and Progress of ICF, book, February 15, 2006; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc847007/: accessed October 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.